THE THREE KINGDOMS
THE THREE KINGDOMS OF SPAIN: BUILDING A LARGE EUROPEAN CONSERVATION LANDSCAPE
Rural abandonment is a serious problem in many regions of Europe and, particularly, in Spain. Villages that previously had 200 or 300 inhabitants, today have barely a dozen. Some have almost no children and their schools have been closed for many years.
With the abandonment of rural communities, a good part of our cultural heritage is lost, including ways of life and knowledge that will be difficult to recover. This process is known locally as the ‘Empty Spain’.
But this Spain is not really empty as these regions boast enormous cultural and natural values that could be used to offer new opportunities to local people. What few people know is that in many regions, whilst people were abandoning areas once used for crops and pastures, forests were growing back and with them wildlife was returning.
Brown bear, Iberian lynx, wolves, wild boars, vultures, roe deer, Iberian ibex, several eagles and river otters are now much more abundant than they were 30 years ago. In fact, Spain is probably the largest wildlife refuge in Europe. And this fauna, combined with beautiful landscapes and spectacular historic towns and villages, exercises a powerful attraction for a global population that is increasingly urban and in need of reconnecting with wild Nature, and also to support its restoration.